Daniel Gabbidon heaped praise on West Ham midfielder Mark Noble and highlighted how important he was but in doing so made a claim that will surely worry Manuel Pellegrini.
The former Hammers defender claimed that Noble likely feels like a minority in the Hammers’ dressing room as the club don’t have many other players who think like him.
Gabbidon also explained that the Hammers don’t have any real other leaders in their team aside from Noble, pointing out that when the 32-year-old is missing it’s noticeable and pointed out how players fail to step up in his absence.
If that wasn’t enough to have Pellegrini worried about having a problem to fix regarding his squad, Gabbidon ended up directly saying that the Hammers lack of leaders is a problem and was perhaps the reason for their inconsistent form in recent seasons.
“As far as West Ham are concerned leadership is important, y’know Mark Noble the job that he has done, since he has taken over that role has been fantastic and I think you notice when he’s not playing that there aren’t many other players who will step up and kind of do the job that he does,” said Gabbidon on Love Sport Radio’s West Ham Fan Show (21mins, 29 seconds).
“I think it’s still a very important role and that’s why I can never say a bad word against him, he’s not just a fantastic player, but he really does lead by example with his performances.
“And you really do notice that when he’s not in the team, I don’t really see anyone else in that West Ham team stepping up and doing the job when he’s not there.
“So I think it’s a problem, I think it has been a problem for West Ham in the last few seasons, not having enough leaders in the dressing room, people who can show other players the way and what West Ham is all about, what is expected on a weekly basis and I think that’s why you’ve seen over the last three or four seasons inconsistencies in performances.
“Some weeks where the players have turned up and performed well and other weeks when they don’t, and I kind of feel sorry for Noble because I think he doesn’t have players on his side of the same thinking, he probably feels he is in the minority with how the dressing room is now.
“With the foreign players coming into the dressing room, it can be hard to captain then and control that dressing room when you don’t have enough players with your way of thinking on your side, so he’s a big big part of the club still and very important and like I said when he’s not there, you can see he is very important.”
There’s no denying that Noble is an important player for the Hammers.
The midfielder has missed the club’s first two league games of the season, the 5-0 loss to Manchester City and the 1-1 draw to Brighton, and without him, the players have struggled to deliver the performances expected.
Against Man City, it did seem like players got dishearted after going a couple of goals down, and you feel if Noble was on the pitch he would have kept everyone’s chin up.
Also given that Pellegrini gave the armband to Aaron Cresswell for the clash with Manchester City and then made Angelo Ogbonna the skipper for the draw with Brighton, it does imply a lack of leaders in the team as those two players are far from being guaranteed starters.
In fact, Cresswell never featured in the draw with Brighton, he struggled immensely against Man City and averaged a rating of 5.29 (Source: WhoScored), while Ogbonna never played against Man City and according to Claret & Hugh he is set to be axed from the Hammers’ starting line-up for the match with Watford.
So given that Pellegrini turned to two players who arguably would struggle to be leaders as they should be more concerned about just featuring, it does help justify Gabbidon’s case that the lack of leaders aids the Hammers’ inconsistent form.
Also, Gabbidon stating that Noble doesn’t have many players of similar thinking to him, surely implies Pellegrini won’t be able to find any quick fix to the club’s leadership issues.
The former Hammers defender explains why the 32-year-old is the ideal captain and if he is in the minority, then unless the Hammers sign a ready-made leader in the next transfer window, Pellegrini can’t address the problem.